Spellbound premieres ‘Four Seasons’ in U.S.

Spellbound Contemporary Ballet tours to BostonThe Celebrity Series of Boston will present the United States premiere of Spellbound Contemporary Ballet’s Le Quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons), choreographed by Founder and Artistic Director Mauro Astolfi. The performances will take place on Friday, October 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 17 at 8 p.m. at the Citi Shubert Theatre in Boston. 


Known as Italy’s premier contemporary dance company, Spellbound was established in Rome in 1994 by Astolfi. Before founding the company, Astolfi trained and danced for many years in the United States, Italy and London. In 2006, he was offered a major commission by the International Festival of Maiori (Italy) to create Carmina Burana. To date, the work has toured over 100 times, including performances all across Italy and in Austria, Spain and Thailand. Additional commissions include the 2008 creation of Don Giovanni for the Venice Biennale and For Her for the Picasso Foundation of Malaga. During the 2011-12 season, Astolfi was invited to create a new work for River North Dance Chicago.


Astolfi’s reimagined Le Quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons) pushes past the conventional, iconographic symbols associated with the succession of the seasons to dive into a visceral reconnection with the cyclical renewal of nature. A wooden structure acts as centerpiece, shifting roles as a place of shelter, a center of connection, a source of the primordial ritual of rebirth. Dancers explore the kaleidoscope of the seasons to videos produced by Enzo Aronica with a background score of musical fragments by composer Luca Salvadori, featuring bird song, a modal ancient melody, abstract electronic sound bites, the glass harmonica, a bass flute.


Of the work, Astolfi says, “My Four Seasons lives outside and inside in a small space which rises, drags and suffocates at times, but by which heals, unites, protects. It seems like a small house, but it is a ship, a tree, a mysterious space from which to watch the seasons change, a place to witness first-hand the cycle of nature which renews you… Autumn – it is not only the leaves which fall. Spring is not only flowers which bloom. [They’re] a nature within us, a magic, primordial ritual…”


Salvadori says of the music, “I decided to use snippets which from time to time ignite a small reflection of a significant detail: the sounds of nature, the voices of the birds, the rhythm of dance, a melody of archaic taste, abstract electronic sounds, an unusual instrument such as the glass harmonica or bass flute, for example. A kaleidoscope of situations to gather from time to time, under the label of a ‘season’ to provide a key part, evocative rather than explanatory, suggestions instead of explanations. I tried to use the comparison with Vivaldi’s masterpiece in a positive way (the challenge would have been lost from the start, of course) trying to consider it as a dialectic resource: complementary in it’s differences, richness achieved by having multiple points of view to focus on an elusive object. As a consequence I approached different styles and materials, such as imagining the complexity of a landscape of sound that evolves looking for a reason to exist. These songs were designed with dance in mind, for Astolfi’s choreography, and therefore, were born with the desire to be complete somewhere, outside the dimensions of pure sound, and aware that, once in the magical circle of moving bodies, it would receive something in return. Perhaps the mysterious spiral of intersections is another way to represent the elusive evolution of the seasons.”


Tickets for Spellbound Contemporary Ballet’s Le Quattro Stagioni start at $60, and are available online at www.celebrityseries.org. For more information on this company that has toured to Spain, Croatia, South Korea, Serbia, Germany, Austria, Belarus, France and Thailand, visit www.spellboundance.com.


Photo: Spellbound dancers in performance. Photo by Gaia Michelangelo Copia.